Football: Barca transfer ban gives youth chance to flourish, says Luis Enrique

Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique smiles during a training session at Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona Dec 19, 2014. Enrique believes the football club's transfer ban is an "invitation" for players from their famed youth academy to push for a p
Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique smiles during a training session at Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona Dec 19, 2014. Enrique believes the football club's transfer ban is an "invitation" for players from their famed youth academy to push for a place in the first team. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA (REUTERS) - Barcelona coach Luis Enrique believes the football club's transfer ban is an "invitation" for players from their famed youth academy to push for a place in the first team.

The Catalan club have been renowned for their development of young talent through the Masia since the arrival in the late 1980s of coach Johan Cruyff, who put a special emphasis on nurturing home-grown players.

Now they will have to rely on youth to replenish the first team after losing an appeal on Tuesday against a Fifa sanction for an alleged breach of rules on the transfer of foreign under-18 players.

That means they are unable to buy during the coming two transfer windows.

"The decision didn't surprise us as it seemed likely, we would have preferred it to be different but that's the way it is," Luis Enrique told a news conference.

"The squad though is sufficiently strong and this is a stimulus for the youth players. It is an invitation for them to show what they can do.

"We are a club that likes to make use of the youth system although we do supplement it by buying players and now we can take advantage of this.

"Barca B is set up to feed the first team with players and I am happy with the way things are going and what they are offering us."

Barcelona lie second in La Liga, a point behind Real Madrid, who have played a game fewer. They face a difficult test on Sunday away to David Moyes' Real Sociedad, to kick off a hectic month.

"We will go there looking for three points and with plenty of determination. We have drawn against them twice and lost three times in recent years so we know what we are up against," said Luis Enrique. "They are now showing more drive (under Moyes) although he has only been there for a few games. They are battling and pressing more and they are looking like they can start moving up the table.

"We have four league games and four in the (King's) cup if we beat Elche so we are where we want to be at the moment. We are used to playing twice a week and we can do that now. It is important to be physically and mentally prepared after the break."